Board Meeting – 1/16/20

Glen Ellen Forum Board of Directors Meeting

January 16, 2020 at Jack London Lodge; submitted by Jim Shere, secretary

A recording in the form of a sound file has been retained for reference.

Present were Melissa Dowling (Board President), Angela Morgan (Board Vice President) Jim Shere (Board Secretary), Nick Brown (Steering Committee), Shannon Lee (Communications Committee), Bettina Sechel (Board Member), Margie Foster (Board Treasurer), Ellie Insley (Landscape and Environment Committee), Oz Robledo (Steering Committee), Alice Horowitz (SDC/Eldridge Committee member), Tracy Salcedo (SDC/Eldridge Committee member), Nancy Padian (Fundraising Committee), and BJ Blanchard (Projects Committee).Excused absentees were Vicki Hill, Poppy Darby (Steering Committee), Laura Schermeister (Commerce and Tourism Committee), Rob Schermeister (Commerce and Tourism Committee), and Jody Ketcham (Projects Committee).

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 pm by Melissa, and she distributed an agenda to those who had not received the online PDF previously made available (see attached). The minutes of the previous board meeting (held 10/17/19) were reviewed; there being no
corrections or changes, Angela moved and Nancy seconded approval of the minutes as submitted and they were unanimously approved by majority vote.

Margie presented the treasurer’s report (see attached). We have $9,454.48 in the bank and $105.45 in petty cash; the total net income for 2019 was $2,510.61. The Commerce & Tourism Committee has a balance of $24.29, which was moved into the general fund by general approval. The Engagement Committee has a balance of $100.00 remaining of a $1,000.00 grant by the Jack London Yacht Club, $500.00 having been spent on the Morton’s Warm Springs event and $677.00 on the Kenwood Depot event, with a donation of $277.00 received. The Fire Victims Fund is zeroed out. The Forum General Fund has a balance of $2,188.59. The Projects Committee has a balance of $3,447.08. The SDC/Eldridge Committee has a balance of $224.99. The Traffic & Safety Committee has a balance of $102.19. This leaves an unclassified balance of $3,472.79.

There followed a discussion of Margie’s replacement as Treasurer when she retires from the Board in April. This person should be conversant with Quickbooks and the filing of annual reports. It was suggested that a bookkeeper could be hired to support the treasurer for 2 to 6 hours per month, which would cost $150.00 to $450.00 at the standard rate of $75.00 per hour. Margie estimates that she currently spends 2-6 hours per month on GE Forum accounting, bookkeeping, and tax filing.

Nick reported for the Steering Committee. Past speakers at the monthly general public meetings included Sanjeev and Dana Singh of the Mill at Glen Ellen Restaurant, Carol Tragash of the Creekside Healing Village, Ricci Wheatley of Sonoma 707 Candle Company, Jennifer Gray Thompson of the Rebuild North Bay Foundation. The Steering Committee put on a holiday party instead of the December meeting. Future speakers planned include someone from the Redwood Empire Food Bank and someone from the Rotary Club of Glen Ellen/Kenwood. Tracy suggested asking Quinton or Liz Martins of the Audubon Canyon Ranch Living with Lions Project to speak, which was generally approved. The
opening statement made at each general public meeting about the purpose and mission of the Forum with a request for donations was discussed; the consensus was to continue this tradition. The steering committee will meet separately to update the verbiage of the
opening statement to include the GE Forum mission statement.

Ellie is developing a two hour presentation on fire-wise landscaping, which it was agreed should be given at a special off-calendar meeting. Such special meetings can be held when the subject requires that format, in collaboration with the Communications Committee and the approval of the Board by email. Nancy reminded the Board that a talk on local biodiversity by the Ecology Center has been discussed in the past.

BJ reported for the Community Project Committee, saying the Committee will be meeting the following evening to begin the new year. Accomplishments this past year include the painting of the post office, and upgrading the parking lot surround there and at the bus
stops. Two more wooden benches are promised for the bus stops; the others have been now been painted. Plans for this year include pursuing certification by the Dark Sky community, placing a better communication board in the lobby of the post office, and— in
partnership with the Glen Ellen Historical Society— placing descriptive historic plaques in the community. Jody Davies is leading the project, working with BJ, Melissa and Jim; the plaques are planned to be made of brass measuring 11”x17” at an estimated cost of $1,000 each, and grants (such as the Impact 100 Community Grant) will be pursued for funding. 22 sites are under consideration for plaques; a plaque at Marshall’s Garage will probably be placed first, as a prototype.

Nick reported for the Traffic and Safety Committee, announcing that Bill Olsen plans to become chair of that committee when construction of his garage is completed.

There was no report from the Commerce and Tourism Committee, Laura and Rob Schermeister being out of town. They will meet quarterly, and are currently defining the list of all local businesses that was begun by Michael Furlong. A second iteration of the map of local businesses is being planned.

Alice reported for the SDC/Eldridge Committee. The committee has been inactive during recent weeks while waiting for formation of the Planning Advisory Team (PAT), which will have an advisory capacity to the planning consultants at Dyett & Bhatia during the two-year implementation of the Specific Plan that has been authorized by the County of Sonoma. The PAT will have its first meeting January 28th.
The recent announcement that areas of the campus (including the reservoirs) are now closed to public use was discussed at length. Alice commented that there will probably be significant public pushback regarding this announcement, given the longstanding informal permission by the state for public access.

[The website for Transform SDC at states “After some confusion about new rules related to road closures at SDC, the California Department of General Services and Permit Sonoma have clarified that all of the existing hiking and biking trails on the SDC property are still open and available for public use consistent with visitor rules for public safety and natural resource protection. This includes the trails around Lake Suttonfield that are accessible from Sonoma Valley Regional Park, and the trails on the western portion of the property that connect with Jack London State Historic Park.” It is suggested that this paragraph be printed out and carried when hiking in the area, in the event that patrolling officers contest your presence.]

Tracy, a member of the SDC Coalition’s Leadership Team, will ask at their meeting tomorrow evening about the Technical Advisory Committees (TAC) that will augment the work of the PAT. Tracy clarified the relationship of the Leadership Committee to the SDC/ Eldridge Committee and the PAT: the Leadership Committee (along with the Lands Committee) is part of the SDC Coalition that was formed in 2015. The Lands Committee recently published a plan for transferring property at Eldridge to State and Regional Parks. The Leadership Committee is made up from of representatives from county government (including Supervisor Susan Gorin, the planning department, the agriculture and open space department, and county counsel), two members of the Glen Ellen Forum (Tracy and Vicki Hill), John McCaull from Sonoma Land Trust, and Richard Dale for the Sonoma Ecology Center, among others. The PAT has a specific role in advising development of the specific plan for the SDC property, while the Leadership Team has a broader and more informal scope as a clearinghouse for information, ideas, and potential strategies in the transformation process. There is a certain overlap among these groups with shared memberships, but each one has a particular focus of attention. Reports from these committees will be made to the monthly general public meetings. Websites that provide further information include Transform SDC at and Eldridge for All at

Ellie reported for the Landscape and Environment Committee, which has been developing workshops on wildlife friendly and fir-ewise landscapes; the two hour presentation described earlier will be scheduled soon. The community garden that had been planned at
one time may be revisited.

A request for future plans for events by the Engagement Committee was made. Margie reports that a total of $208.25 has been raised for future parties.

The deadline for applications to Sonoma County’s Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) has
been extended to January 31st.

Jim reported that the Sonoma Valley Lions Club has donated $500.00 towards the Jim Berkland Bridge campaign sponsored by the Glen Ellen Historical Society, bringing the total raised to $940.13 towards the $2,196.13 goal, leaving $1,256.00 yet to be raised.

We were not selected for the Sonoma Valley $10,000 Grant to develop a capacity-building plan. Karin Demarest, Vice President for Community Impact, may be able to help us prepare our next application.

The Fundraising Committee, composed of Nancy, Bettina and Rob, will assume management of grant applications and other similar activities. A discussion of confusion regarding eScrip followed, to be clarified at the April Bard meeting by the Fundraising Committee. We were reminded that Jennifer Gray Thompson of the Rebuild North Bay Foundation had indicated during her presentation last year that they will continue to have the RiseUp Community Impact grants, and that a lot of what we do may qualify for various categories of theirs. It was moved by Melissa and seconded by Angela that Margie apply for a new RiseUp Community Impact grant from Rebuild North Bay Foundation; the vote
was carried.

Preparation for the election of Board members during the April meeting was then discussed. Margie and Jim will be retiring from the Board, leaving six board members entering their second year of service; any of them that does not wish to continue must submit a letter of resignation. The Bylaws allow up to eleven Board members, and applications will be solicited by newspaper and online publication, with an end of March deadline. The new two year positions would be filled on April by election, as before. The purpose of establishing a staff position of Executive Director for continuity of leadership, rather than the rotating leadership required by the term limits of Board membership, was discussed. Melissa and Jim will meet to establish guidelines and protocol for the election.

It was stated that visitors are welcome to attend Board meetings if they submit requests in advance, briefly describing any subjects they want to bring to the attention of the Board so that it can be placed on the agenda.

The next Board meetings will be held at 6:30 pm on April 16th, July 16th, October 15th, and January 14th 2021, locations to be announced. Nick announced that the Steering Committee meetings are held the last Monday of each month at 6:00 pm, during which the agenda of the following monthly general public meeting is planned. The meeting was adjourned at 8:03 pm.

Board of Directors Quarterly Meeting
January 16, 6:30-8:00 PM, Mayflower Hall
1. Call to Order and Introduction – Melissa
2. Secretary’s Report – Jim
a. Approval of October Board Meeting minutes
3. Treasurers Report – Margie
a. 2019 Financial Summary
b. Rise up Grant project – Landscape Lottery
4. Committee Reports (BRIEF <5 minute look back and forward to next quarter and beyond) a. Steering Committee - Nick b. Projects Committee – BJ c. Traffic and Safety Committee – no report i. Bill Olsen to take over chair position when his house is re-built d. Commerce and Tourism – no report e. SDC / Eldridge Committee – Vicki and Alice f. Landscape and Environment Committee – Ellie Insley g. Engagement Committee – Poppy 5. Old Business a. Sonoma Valley Fund Grant b. MAC application deadline Friday October 25th 2019 4:00 PM 6. New Business a. 2020 Impact100 Community Grant b. Preparation for April Elections 7. Public Comment (5 minutes per person)